One family's heartache at saying goodbye to a loved one during the pandemic

Credit: Tiley family

The family of a woman with terminal cancer have spoken of the pain of saying goodbye to her amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Jackui Tiley, 57, from Tredegar in Blaenau Gwent, died in April when the strictest lockdown measures were still in place.

It meant her husband of 20 years and their two daughters could not say goodbye to her properly, and only nine people could attend her funeral at a social distance.

The Tiley family said they wanted to share their story because so many other families across the world are going through the same thing.

Daughter Mesêlle published a heartbreaking post on social media, in which she detailed her mother's final days after being admitted to Nevill Hall Hospital in Abergavenny on April 16th with breathing difficulties.

She described how only one person at a time was allowed to visit, wearing full personal protective equipment - and later, how not everyone could attend Jackui's funeral due to a change in the regulations.

The 22-year-old was the last person to visit Jackui in hospital on April 24th, the night before she died. Mesêlle's sister Aimêe and their father Chris said their goodbyes over a video call.

Chris and Jackui Tiley recently renewed their wedding vows, joined by their two daughters. Credit: Tiley family

Mesêlle said: "I had to have that heartbreaking conversation with the doctor - telling me that my mother wasn’t going to make it - on my own.

"I’m 22. Not having anyone there in that situation was so hard. In normal circumstances my dad and my sister would have been there too, together as a family. But it couldn’t be that way.

"I brushed my mam's hair, wiped her down with wet wipes, sprayed her favourite perfumes, sang, placed her favourite Orangutan toy in her arms, along with a photo of my family, and read to her.

"I told her how much I loved her, how I knew she had fought beautifully for two years and if she was tired she could sleep. I said goodbye to my mam before she had even gone, because I was afraid I couldn’t be there when she did.

"I FaceTimed Aimêe. She spoke to my mother, telling her how much she loved her and that it was okay to fall asleep. And so did my dad. It was the most heartbreaking situation. We said goodbye as a family."

Mesêlle praised the "amazing, understanding" doctors and nurses on the ward, who desperately wanted to comfort her but were unable to due to coronavirus restrictions.

The family also wish to highlight the support they received from Hospice of the Valleys, which provides specialist palliative care to the people of Blaenau Gwent.

Only nine people could attend Jackui's funeral due to strict coronavirus regulations. Credit: Tiley family

Jackui passed away on April 25th and her funeral was held on May 13th at Llwydcoed Crematorium in Aberdare.

The service was bittersweet for the family, who have dozens of close relatives but were only allowed nine mourners due to coronavirus regulations.

Mesêlle added: "No order of service, no family cars. Just straight to the crematorium.

"Inside the crematorium, normally you sit close to your loved ones. There were stickers on the seats saying to keep the two-metre distance.

"It’s hard enough losing your mother, but losing your mother during a pandemic - there are no words to describe how difficult it is."

Despite their grief, the family were comforted by the love and support they received on the morning of Jackui's funeral.

"Our street was lined with people, clapping and throwing flowers on the hearse as it drove by" Mesêlle said.

"Music playing and even a neighbour of ours playing the drums. She was so loved.

"I find solace in knowing my mama knew how much we loved her - we told her so many times a day. Tell people how much you love them every day, because one day you won’t get the chance.

"The sad thing is, we aren’t the only family going through this. There are so many families across the world going through the same as us. This is the reality."

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